Daily Count, Ridiculous RWA Junk, Etc.
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41,096 / 70,000

Wolf Unbound – start of Day 4 – up 3063 from yesterday! Wheee!

Smidgen of the day:

His father nodded. “I’m glad to hear it. I don’t know what to say, son. I’ve just never imagined this situation. I like it very much that this Tegan makes you happy but I’ve never met a werewolf before much less had one in my family. I’d be shocked if you married a Protestant girl, this is way out of my league.”

Now – so I go back and forth on the whole issue of RWA membership because of some of the attitudes from the National Organization regarding epublishing, small presses and erotic romance in general. But I do like what the chapters offer and I’m of the opinion, or I have been, that the voices within the ranks should speak up. So when my dues came last month I paid them and now I’m sorry.

I am because on the eve of the national conference (one I am SO glad I didn’t spend a dime to attend) they’ve unveiled two of the most exclusionary new rules I’ve seen from them in a while. The first one is how publishers become RWA recognized. In the last few years several epublishers have received recognition: Ellora’s Cave was the first, then Trisk (a very controversial decision) and then Loose Id and Samhain. This agitated many people who seem to think the RWA should be about excluding people to make those members feel better about just how special they are because others aren’t.

To wit – the new board ruling on publisher recognition unveiled today:

Commencing with RWA’s 2008 National Conference, for official publisher participation, a romance publisher must verify to RWA that it: (1) is not a Subsidy Publisher or Vanity Publisher; (2) has been releasing romance novels via national distribution for no fewer than three years, with no fewer than two full-length romance novels or novel-length romance anthologies published in each of three consecutive years; (3) provides per book advances of at least $1,000 for all books; and (4) pays all authors participating in an anthology an advance of at least $500.

and they give us this little “note”

The Board wishes to note that a $1,000 advance for a novel is an extremely small sum. It is, however, a minimal indicator that a publisher is invested in an author’s career to the degree that RWA can reasonably allocate its conference resources to that publisher, as some consideration has been paid for use of an author’s rights.

What they’ve done is effectively pushed all epublishers out the door. Firstly, ones like Samhain who do give nominal advances and go to print but who’ve not been open for three years yet and then for everyone else with the 1K advance requirement.

I don’t talk about money in public. It’s crass and it’s like talking about how great your books are or how special your writing is or whatever, it’s tacky. BUT, I will say because it’s germane here, I make good money with epublishing. I can’t compare it to NY because my NY book isn’t out yet. But I am a romance writer for two very good romance publishers other than Harlequin (and hey, Harlequin is the grand damme so hee!). Moreover, is that all that makes a romance author? Money? Because what about those authors who struggle and don’t sell through but do so with a big publisher? Are they suddenly not romance writers because something they wrote didn’t resonate with enough readers to make them count?

And the advance stuff is another total blind spot. Look I’m not saying I hate advances, I love them, LOL. But it’s not the only indicator that a publisher is invested in an author. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, the size of the advance is such a small part of it. Look at publishers who do pay small advances but who do a lot of promotion for their authors and give their authors many avenues to write different things and explore. Dorchester does this. Look at Shomi! It’s a great line but totally experimental. They’ve done a lot of advertising for it though. My biggest point is, let the authors make the decisions based on what they feel is most important. Aside from fraudulent places charging authors to print books, etc, this stuff is all smoke and mirrors.

How is this reorganization to close the “club” doors on epublishers good for authors in any way? This is an organization made for romance authors. If they only mean those people the board thinks are worthy, they should say so and stop using my sales numbers to make romance look better. Stop taking my fucking dues then, damn it.

The continual moving of the goal posts to keep out the “undesirables” from RWA is so obvious and so ridiculous, I must admit I’m flabbergasted (and I love the word flabbergasted!) at the absolute, in your face bias I see. And yep, it’s bias. It’s bigotry from people who have no idea what it takes to be a working writer so they assume everyone faces the same struggles and has the same goals with their writing. I want to know how those board members voted on this stuff. Does anyone know? Does it have to be unanimous?

And the PAN stuff, not surprised. More of the same. As if by shutting people out it protects them. Like segregation protected people. It’s backwards logic but sadly, it’s pretty common.

12 comments to “Daily Count, Ridiculous RWA Junk, Etc.”

  1. Ember
    July 11th, 2007 at 12:24 pm · Link

    I’ve been sitting here shaking my head and jumping from author’s loops to email and back again for the past 2 hours, still not believing this was the best the board could offer. No, not offer – RESOLVE.

    And now I’m about to give myself a headslap (’cause those 2 hours are gone, and I don’t have 3063 in the wordbank yet today. So I’m going to go write, and forget about this mess until I get some actual writing done. They can piss me off, and make me wonder why I ever aspired to be in their organization in the first place. But I’m a writer whether they recognize it or not.

  2. December Quinn/Stacia Kane
    July 11th, 2007 at 1:00 pm · Link

    I am totally stunned.

    I believed–and still believe–that the standards needed to be made stricter. That for a publisher to get recognition it should have a proven track record of sales high enough for authors to buy more than a Big Mac. But I never, ever expected that in doing that RWA would decide to basically give epublishers the finger.

    I know epubbed authors who make a lot more per book than NY pubbed authors.

    The equation of epublishing with vanity publishing does a disservice to all writers, not just romance writers.

    This is disgusting.

  3. Lynne
    July 11th, 2007 at 4:24 pm · Link

    The weirdest part of it all, to me, is the inclusion of this language in the criteria for determining if a publisher is a vanity/subsidy press: publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site.

    I agree with the other criteria — authors paying a fee for publication and having to do all the promo/sales themselves — but this one doesn’t belong with the others.

    I think it’s their way of getting rid of the e-pubs, even the big gals, because of that one word — primary.

  4. Tess MacKall
    July 11th, 2007 at 7:11 pm · Link

    Well Said, Lauren. I had heard of the rules changing about a month ago. However, there was no mention of the advance payment, simply a mention of sales. It looks like the mention of advances was intentionally left out until the actual conference. Shouldn’t members receive a copy of these proposed changes long before conference? It now appears as though the RWA Board has taken the meaning of Elitest to new levels. It’s a shame they have taken this stance. I hope the membership in attendance rallies and votes this down…..
    Tess MacKall

  5. Christine
    July 12th, 2007 at 6:36 am · Link

    Hey I’m totally out of the loop on this. But aren’t there people w/ power who can override this type of rule? Secondly why do you guys belong to an organization who doesn’t want you? Why don’t all of the epublishers and authors get together and start there own group

  6. Seressia
    July 12th, 2007 at 9:14 am · Link

    Let me preface my comments by saying that I’m already in PAN and my publishers are print publishers.

    At first, I thought the changes were good, the best that they could come up with considering the circumstances. Then I started breaking down each point, and here are the conclusions I came to:

    Basically, no ePub would be allowed to take editor appointments at National, because of the advance requirement.

    The three ePubs who are currently recognized will be delisted or called Vanity Presses because their PRIMARY means of selling books is through their own websites.

    One or two of the small presses currently recognized may also be considered a Vanity Publisher because of the 50% rule of owners publishing books to non-owners publishing books.

    I hope that RWA will clarify their definition. We will have to wait until the new Market Update is released to see who is on and who is off. If you’re a member, please write your Board liasion. As it stands now, this effectively denies any ePublisher from joining the reindeer games.

    To Christine: The Board decision is all but set. Only next year’s AGM at next year’s National Conference can undo this. (Did anyone notice how they extend the requirement of posting the Hot Sheet from 48 to 72 hours, just so it wouldn’t be posted in time for this year’s AGM? I know, call me a conspiracy theorist. ) 😈 Or voting in new board members who will have enough of a majority vote to rescind this decision.

  7. Sasha White
    July 12th, 2007 at 9:49 am · Link

    I’m right with you, Lauren. I didn’t renew my RWA membership, and I’m fine with it. There are a couple of good things about RWA, but personally, I find more bad than good. I hate prejudice, and that’s exactly what RWA is promoting.

    There are other author organizations out there that I’m going to try, when I get the urge. But honestly I think things like Access Romance, and Romance Diva’s are the best. They offer workshops and blogs, and message boards for authors of all levels, and what better way to learn than from each other?

  8. Lauren
    July 12th, 2007 at 11:21 am · Link

    Seressia, I just ordered No Committment Required from Amazon after checking out your website. thanks for your comments by the way. Yes, I think it was a good thing they looked at this because of the whole Trisk debacle. But when everything gets applied, it’s a clusterfuck. Although I did have to laugh when I wondered how many books harlequin sold on eharlequin, if it’s more than 50% you can bet that new rule would be changed in five minutes.

    I will write a letter about it. I wanted to see how it shook out at the conference. I’m starting to hear back from my publishers who are there and trying to get answers but I don’t want to go off half cocked and write some letter until I have all the facts.

    Lynne – yes, that whole thing about the sales on the website is so odd to me. The other stuff makes sense, but the sales part was just weird and it seemed very pointed to me.

    Sasha – I ended up keeping my RWA membership last month, I wish I’d known then what they were up to but I love to ability to advertise in Romance Sells and I’ve got a Spice book coming out in May so I made the excuse for that. I also joined my local chapter, who is sadly, being very quiet on this and I hope it’s just because everyone is at Nationals. After this craziness, after the craziness of the years before I suppose I was hoping saner people were at the helm who listened to the membership, I guess I was wrong. No matter, my money will be better spent next year.

    Ember – I think what I found so frustrating was how out of the blue this one came. I knew they were workin on PAN stuff and when I read it all over, I can’t say I find it that bad a change. The RITA change WRT copyright date is really good. But this vanity publisher/epublisher thing, well that was like a sneak attack and I’m very displeased no input was sought on it.

    December – yes

    Tess – I don’t know how it works but usually yes, they’re supposed to have time for open member comment.

  9. Seressia
    July 12th, 2007 at 6:44 pm · Link

    Thanks, Lauren, and I hope you enjoy it! NCR was my first book (originally pubbed in 2000).

    I’ve looked everywhere to see if other organizations define subsidy/vanity the way RWA has, with that sales codicil. No one does, not even SFWA which is more strict than RWA regarding who’s published (they have a $2K minimum.)

    Hopefully clarification will come sooner rather than later.

  10. Seressia
    July 12th, 2007 at 6:47 pm · Link

    FRAG. Samhain will be unrecognized.
    See here:

  11. laurendane
    July 12th, 2007 at 6:56 pm · Link

    Seressia – yeah, I just saw Angie’s comments on the Samhain author loop. Raelene has reported pretty much the same thing to the EC authors.

    And when does the paranormal book you have excerpted at your website come out? Is that the novella in the vegas bites antho?

  12. Seressia
    July 12th, 2007 at 7:37 pm · Link

    This really is unbelievable. I’ve got a deadline but I can’t write because I’m focusing on the cluster that is this latest RWA decision.

    I really, really hope EC and Samhain’s owners are laughing behind the scenes: “You mean I can’t come to RWA and solicit manuscripts? However am I going to find any?” asks the house who is still closed to submissions until September because they are innundated.

    Dream of Shadows will be a single title in September. Vegas Bites is already out, and its sequel Vegas Bites Back will be out in December. /plug.

    BTW, I’m going to gank the word count meter. Maybe that will help me focus on my writing and not on the latest debacle from RWA.